MARCH 12, 1956
NEW YORK—I think everyone must be impressed by the dignity and calmness with which the boycott of the bus companies in Montgomery, Alabama, has been carried on by the Negroes. Gandhi's theory of nonviolence seems to have been learned very well.
I would also like to speak in praise of those white people in the South who have long fought for the rights of all their fellow citizens. They are probably being made to suffer more than any of us in the North can imagine at the present time. I am interested to find that there is even a group of University of Alabama students who want to know how they can restore sanity to their fellow students. They do not regard with fear the admission to the undergraduate body of one young woman, and they deplore the methods used to keep her out.
I feel Miss Autherine Lucy has behaved with a great deal of dignity. She has apparently not enjoyed the publicity which the NAACP has thrust upon her; but she has acted with quiet dignity both in Washington and in New York, and her attitude gives one confidence that if she can be given a chance in the university she will act with wisdom and discretion.
Personally, I would like to see not one student but ten admitted. Also, if there are others at the present time that the university is considering, it would be well to bring their consideration to a rapid close and accept these students, as well as to rescind their foolish refusal to permit this rather gentle and mild young woman from returning to the university.
The Supreme Court recognized that there must be local adjustment in certain states in desegregation of the schools. They placed good faith in moving forward in the hands of the courts, and we must wait to see how this progresses. But there is nothing which prevents the Administration in Washington from moving at once in the area of protection for all citizens who desire to vote. In many states, this means paying a poll tax. That in itself may make voting difficult in some cases and really requires two campaigns: (1) to get people to pay their tax, and (2) actually to get them to the polls.
No matter how many promises the NAACP wishes to extract from candidates at the present time, nothing can be achieved of real value for the coming ten months except by the Republican party and the Republican Administration, since they are now in power. The questions now being addressed to Democratic candidates might much better be addressed to the President of the United States. He can act, and where he cannot act he can ask Congress to give him the power to do so, or to give it to his Department of Justice. I think it is fair to ask any candidate what his position is. But I think it is a waste of time, if you want something done in the next few months, not to concentrate your continuing efforts on the only people who can actually do anything—the President and his Administration.